Debate on land allotted to Raheel may upset cohesion



KARACHI: The Pakistan Army stated on Thursday that the ‘debate’ surrounding the allotment of 90-acre agriculture land to former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif had the “potential to create misunderstanding between state institutions”.  The official mouthpiece of the military — the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) — was reacting to a report which first appeared in a little known Urdu daily on Jan 20 and was then picked by all other media outlets. According to the report, the former army chief was allotted a piece of land worth over Rs1 billion in Lahore in December 2014.  On Thursday evening, ISPR chief Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor posted a statement on his official Twitter account, saying the issue of the allotment of agricultural land to army officers and soldiers was being debated and conjectured for the last few days. It may be known that such allotments are through constitutional provision.


The statement further said that the allotment to Gen Raheel was also made under the same constitutional provisions and government/army procedures through which the land was allotted to other army officers and soldiers.  The ISPR statement warned: “This debate [on allotment of agriculture land] with intent of maligning Army also has the potential to create misunderstandings between state institutions thus considered detrimental to existing cohesion.” Gen Raheel is not the only army chief who came under the media spotlight after his retirement. Much has been said about former COAS Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani after his retirement.  The 90-acre land in the Bedian Road area in Lahore was said to be allotted to Gen Raheel over two years ago. When the news about the allotment became public this week, a security establishment official told Dawn that there was nothing unusual about it. “It is agricultural land, which cannot be transferred, and will be used for this purpose alone. It will not be used for commercial purpose as is the impression being created by some,” he said.  “Every army chief gets a similar volume of agricultural land on retirement,” the official said, adding the land allotted to Gen Raheel was located some 5km from Lahore’s border area.